Let’s start with a great definition of Qigong and then discuss what role qigong plays in your tai chi development.
Dr. Gayl Hubatch, in Fabric of the Soul, sums up the process of qi gong development nicely. “Coordinating breath, intention, and movement increases energy flow. Increased energy flow is healing and restorative.” Eloquent and simple. We engage in tangible, understandable activities (moving, breathing, intention) and reap health benefits.
Here is what makes qi gong development difficult:
- It is normally a far cry from any medical advice we have ever received.
- While the activities are easy and enjoyable, developing sensitivity to identify what is going on internally takes a while. Without knowledge of how qigong is developing you internally it is easy to abandon because “you don’t feel like you are doing anything.”
- It is esoteric. Let’s be blunt. We are talking about moving “energy” around a body we feel pretty familiar with. Not something I did during high school PE.
Explain qi gong development with enough western perspective so that I buy-in and keep practicing.
The tissues and fluids of the body are made up of minerals and chemicals with magnetic properties. The earth is a magnetic field and food and air also serve as energy. We can perform activities to alter blood flow and temperature which interacts (matches) the earth’s properties. These properties are closely aligned with what we conceive of as healthy.
Practitioners of tai chi are normally pretty open to anything. They hear of qigong and want to feel what is described and begin by being quite hopeful. With an understanding of the full developmental progress we can stop doubt from creeping in.
Developing the Energy of Qigong
I am going to provide a spectrum of development based on my interactions over the years. Insert yourself into this paradigm and see what’s to come.
|Let’s Bake a Cake|
|Turning the oven on||A practitioner is brand new. Their interest is piqued and they are just learning to relax into a meditative stance.|
|The oven is heating up||Progress at relaxation allows the energy to move around the body correctly|
|All the ingredients have been found||They are interested to new terms like dantian and are actively trying to use them|
|The ingredients get mixed||They can think about their center when meditating and have an understanding of keeping their hip joints, arm pits, lower back soft.|
|The oven beeps and is hot enough||A different sort of warmth, from the inside exists after practice. It is general and fleeting|
|The ingredients are one big blob and enter the oven||The body moves collectively or in order from the center out|
|A quick initial rise happens||Intention on the hands or dantian yields a perceivable heat that goes away|
|A long time passes and the cake browns||We work to try to make this feeling come back and it does at times. Our overall relaxation and higher body temperature come quicker|
|We check it with toothpicks and send it back in for more time||We can warm our hands and loosen our center easily.|
|Time for frosting||We can create and feel energy and can bring it to one spot within the body if we concentrate on the spot|
|Time for decoration||We can move the energy in specific directions, alight on a space and move on to another|
Qi gong development is a silent conversation with your autonomic system
I hope this playful explanation hints at the huge amount of foundational work that you are benefiting from when you “don’t feel anything.” We are talking about interacting with autonomic processes and being able to affect your health, literally, from the inside. Of course this process shouldn’t be quick or easy.